I have been lucky enough to travel to Cape Town on many occasions through my work. It’s one of my favourite routes with my job, it’s definitely one of the most beautiful cities in the World. The landscape is just gorgeous from Table Mountain to Boulders Beach to Cape Point it’s all just stunning.
I love Cape Town as there is just so much to do there, it literally has something for everyone! If your a big wine lover check out the vineyards, if your a nature lover go cage diving with sharks or on a safari, if your an adrenaline junkie check out the shores for some surf lessons.
The food in Cape Town is also some of the tastiest food I have ever tasted and also amazing value as Cape Town is so cheap. Cape Town is also great for anyone on budget, I really can’t recommend Cape Town enough and every time I see it appear on my roster I’m always over the moon to go back. Every time I go on a layover with work I try and find something new to go and do or somewhere new to eat. You can never get bored in Cape Town.
Sights & Activities
Bo-Kaap is a former township and is located at the slopes of Signal Hill. It has lots of history and is the heart of the Cape Malay culture. It is a bright and colourful neighbourhood and the majority of its residents are Muslims. Originally the aboriginal tribes in Cape Town resisted the Dutch back in the 1700s so slaves were bought over from Malaysia, Indonesia and other parts of Africa.
The brightly coloured houses are to express freedom as originally the houses were white when they were on lease many years ago. There are also several mosques dotted around the neighbourhood. Bo-Kaap should be added to any Cape Town itinerary as it’s such a diverse and vibrant place. While on the tour you also get the best views of Table Mountain and Signal Hill.
On one layover I decided to take a Free Walking Tour of Bo-Kaap which was great and lasts about 90 minutes, and the guides take you all around the main parts of the neighbourhood and provide lots of information about the area, I really would recommend the tour as there is no need to book you just turn up and check the times they run, and just give a tip as this is how the guides earn their money.
Boulders Beach is one of my favourite places to go and visit in Cape Town, it’s absolutely amazing and a nature lovers dream. Boulders Beach is situated in False Bay and not too far away from Simons Town, which is also another tourist attraction. What makes Boulders Beach so special is it’s 2000-3000 African Penguin colony that have made their home on the soft white sand beach.
Back in the early 1980s a few African Penguins made Boulders their residence as it’s well sheltered from storms and waves with its large granite boulders, and since the early 80s the population has continued to grow, unfortunately African Penguins are on the endangered species list which also makes Boulders extra special, and it is now protected under the Table Mountain National Park and Marine protected area.
To go and witness these feathered little guys there is a small conservation fee of R65 per person and some boarded viewing platforms which you can stand and watch these gorgeous little birds, and the boardwalks also protect the penguins and their nests from the visitors. If you do have extra time some people climb over the boulders and go to view the rock pools and go swimming in the crystal clear waters around False Bay.
Just as you walk towards the penguin colony there is a gorgeous little place to grab a drink or ice cream it has a little hole in the wall where you can order, we grabbed some Milkshakes to go and the blueberry one was very tasty!
Camps Bay is a tourist hot spot in Cape Town and when visiting here you can see why with a gorgeous beach and Table Mountain as a backdrop it’s one of Cape Towns most desirable neighbourhoods. Camps Bay has a great atmosphere and plenty of choice of bars and restaurants to choose from. There are also several street vendors selling traditional African arts and crafts to browse. Camps Bay is a great place to base yourself if staying in Cape Town as it’s easily accessible from other main areas in the city and you can’t beat the breathtaking views of Table Mountain.
Cape Point & Cape of Good Hope
Cape Point is always referred to as the most southern point of Africa however that is actually Cape Agulhas, however a visit to Cape Point definitely makes you feel like your on the edge of the world. Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope are both part of the Table Mountain National Park. It’s got a rugged coastline and is where both the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean meet.
The Flying Dutchman Funicular is a must when visiting Cape Point it takes visitors up to the Cape Point Lighthouse and summit and provides panoramic views once at the top. The funicular also saves visitors a hard walk up to the top and can enjoy the views and only costs R70 per person return.
I have visited Cape Point on a few occasions now and have always booked a half day tour through the hotel concierge. The tour includes Hout Bay, Boulders Beach and Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope, and pick up from the hotel in Cape Town is roughly at 8.30am and normally returns to the hotel at approximately 1pm.
The half day tour crams lots in but also allows plenty of time to see everything and only costs about £25 per person, not including the funicular at Cape Point and the conservation fee at Boulders Beach. There is a huge variety of tours available in Cape Town and all vary slightly with what’s included, so have a good look into what you want to get out of a tour and what meets your budget.
Cape Wheel is at the V&A waterfront and offers 360 degree views over the waterfront, Table Mountain and the skyline. The Cape Wheel has 30 enclosed capsules for you to have to yourself which rise above 40 meters off the ground. The ride goes round several times which lasts about 15 minutes. I took my mother on the wheel for her birthday and if you take proof of ID you can get a free ticket on your birthday. If your visiting the V&A waterfront this is a great attraction to go on and only costs R150 per adult.
Chapmans Peak Drive
Chapmans Peak Drive is also referred to as Chappies by locals, this toll road stretches along 9kms around the rocky Atlantic coastline of Chapmans Peak from Hout Bay to Noordhoek. In total there is 114 curves and it isn’t one of the easiest roads to drive along, and can close due to bad weather conditions. Chapmans Peak was originally constructed during the First World War, and has won many engineering awards. The road is also a toll road so have a look over the website for full details and information. Chapmans Peak is definitely one of the most picturesque and scenic roads I have had the pleasure of witnessing and is a must do especially on the way to Cape Point.
Hout Bay is a seaside neighbourhood in Cape Town which sits in a valley in the Cape Peninsular. The neighbourhood, the harbour and the valley are all referred to as Hout Bay. Hout Bay Harbour is a popular tourist spot as it hosts a small traders market selling local wares and there you can see local fishermen’s boats and other locals going about their day to day lives. There is also a resident sea lion which swims about the harbour which one of the locals feeds daily.
Hout Bay also has breathtaking views of the ocean and the surrounding valleys. Hout Bay is also one of the stops along Chapmans Peak which is one of the most scenic drives in the world. Hout Bay is an absolute must when in Cape Town even if it’s just to stop for a few minutes to witness the rugged coastline overlooking the Atlantic.
Kalk Bay is situated in the suburbs of greater Cape Town, and is a fishing village on the coast of False Bay. This beautiful little village has lots to offer any visitor, with interesting boutique shops, restaurants and cafes. It’s a beautiful place to visit with it’s rugged coastline on one side and mountain backdrop on the other. We stopped here on the way to Boulders Beach and walked along it’s quaint high street which is full of character. I really want to go back to Kalk Bay and spend a full day exploring the area as it had so much charm to the place.
Lions Head Mountain is another one of Cape Towns famous mountains and is situated between Table Mountain and Signal Hill. Lions Head Mountain is part of the Table Mountain National Park, and can be spotted as a backdrop from many parts of the city. I’m always really lucky as I mostly get a lovely view of it from my hotel room when I stay over in Cape Town on my layovers with work. You can also hike up lions Head which should take between 1 and half hours to 2 hours, and can be quite a tough walk up but the views are meant to be spectacular. The hike up Lions Head is still on my to do list, and something I would like to do on a layover in the future.
Sea Point is a affluent suburb in Cape Town, which follows the coastline and offers spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean. This lovely neighbourhood is also great for foodies it has so many amazing restaurants and cafes to visit. Sea Point promenade stretches for several kilometres and is one of the main attractions in the area, it’s great to walk or run along the promenade and take in the sea air.
Sea Point is also a great area for families as there are lots of beaches, play areas, swimming pools and tidal pools. I love Sea Point and always try to sample a new restaurant in the area every time I’m in Cape Town and always have a leisurely wander along the promenade which is just gorgeous on a sunny day.
Table Mountain is Cape Towns number one attraction and the landmark that is most associated with Cape Town. Table Mountain is breathtaking both viewing it from a distance and also while on top of it. I have visited Table Mountain on several occasions and normally get the cableway car up as it’s only about £15 return, however I do know some people that do climb up the mountain. I never have climbed it as it looks quite hard to climb, and I’d rather get up to the top and spend lots of time exploring the top of Table Mountain and it’s gorgeous views.
On one trip I took my friend with me, and we both went to the top of Table Mountain and decided to take a small packed lunch and some prossecco up to the top which was amazing, we sat overlooking the most beautiful views while having a picnic, can’t recommend it enough. I also took my Mum up Table Mountain on a separate trip for her 60th birthday, which she loved!
There is so much more than gorgeous panoramic views to see on top of the mountain, Table Mountain has lots of unique flora and fauna as well as lots of small cute little Dassies running around which are like small guinea pig type creatures.
Even though Table Mountain is a huge tourist attraction once on top of the mountain it never feels over crowded or too busy, and I always feel like I’ve had plenty of space to roam around and find a quiet spot to myself to enjoy the scenery. There is also a restaurant and gift shop near the cable car which is slightly busier area of the mountain but that’s to be expected.
If you are really strapped for time in Cape Town, then make sure you visit Table Mountain if nothing else.
Tigresse Catamaran Sunset Cruise
Tigresse is one of the largest catamarans in the V&A which offers a selection of cruises throughout the day which normally last from 60 to 90 minutes long. The catamaran can also be hired for private events and functions aswell as offering charter cruises. Some of my colleagues and myself decided to go for the sunset cruise to take in the spectacular views of Table Mountain from the ocean with beautiful pastel sunset skies. The sunset cruise is R320 per person but also included some sparkling wine which is the perfect way to wind down the day.
The V&A Waterfront (Victoria & Albert Waterfront) is always popular with both tourists and visitors there is so much to see and do at the Southern Hemispheres oldest working harbour. The V&A has so much to offer from hotels, restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, markets, museums, historic attractions aswell as several purpose built attractions. The Waterfront is always a hive of activity as there is also a huge array of boat and watersport tours and packages available there too.
The Waterfront is upmarket and you can also take in stunning views of Table Mountain which is set behind the V&A. The Waterfront is steeped in historical attractions such as the Victorian Clock Tower, where you can also witness some of the resident sea lions nearby swimming and also coming up on to the boardwalks for a spot of sunbathing. The V&A is a great place to visit at any time of day but try and visit around one of your daily meals as there are so many great places to grab a bite to eat or drink.
No trip to Cape Town would be complete without sampling some of Cape Towns wines. There are lots of vineyards to choose from in Cape Town and lots of vineyard tours available. On one layover some of the crew and myself booked through our hotel who organised a driver to collect us and took us to 2 popular vineyards which were Groot Constantia and SteenBerg.
It was great to go to 2 different vineyards as they were very different Groot Constantia was a traditional vineyard which was more old fashioned and SteenBerg is a very modern and upmarket vineyard. Wine tasting in Cape Town is so cheap, there are various packages available at the vineyards but from what I remember we paid about £10 each to the driver who sat and waited for us while we were in each vineyard, and I paid less than £5 in each Vineyard.
At Groot Constantia I opted for a cheese and wine taster which was amazing and the taster was informative too. While at SteenBerg I opted for a sparkling wine taster which included about 5 different glasses of sparkling wines to sample. SteenBerg was my favourite out of the 2 vineyards we visited, it was a gorgeous sunny day sat outside with stunning views and great wine. If you are in Cape Town for a while try and sample as many vineyards as you can, I have had some of the best wine I’ve ever tasted in Cape Town and of course always bring a few bottles home with me to enjoy.
Food & Beverage
If your a little homesick and missing a good old fashioned dive pub, then head to Brian’s Pub in Seapoint. It’s a typical pub with cheap booze, pool table and juke box, literally nothing fancy at all, but I have to admit I pop in here from time to time for a nightcap.
Cape Point Vineyards
Cape Point Vineyards is a gorgeous place to stop at for a glass of wine or two or to visit for wine tasting. The views are stunning and this award winning estate is nestled between mountains and ocean in Noordhoek. There is also a restaurant on site which you can visit for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Cape Town Fish Market
Cape Town Fish Market is a chic restaurant located in V&A Waterfront, it’s a restaurant which prides itself on serving up fresh seafood. There is outside seating which is great on a warm day, and the food is delicious. I had a lime milkshake which was amazing, it sounds like it shouldn’t taste good but was one of the best milkshakes I’ve ever had! I also visited here with my Mum on a trip I bought her on, and we stopped here and sat outside and had the some gorgeous milkshakes. Even if you don’t stop here for food you should definitely make a pit stop here and check out the milkshakes!
Craft Burger Bar
I always hear so many great comments about Craft Burger Bar, so recently I decided to check it out for myself, and can honestly say I was not disappointed. There are two locations one at Sea Point and the other at Heritage Square, I visited the Sea Point one. There is a decent selection of burgers which you can change to chicken or vegetarian, or alternatively and what I opted for was the create your own option.
You choose which burger you would like then can choose no bun or half bun if you like, lots of sauces and extras can be added too. I chose a vegetarian burger with half a bun and fried egg, pineapple, tangy mayonnaise, gherkins and red onions and a side salad and it was delicious, I’m not normally a fan of vegetarian burgers but can honestly say it lived up to the rumour as Cape Towns best burger!
Crew Bar is a LGBT club and bar and is always a good night. It always has good music playing and on most nights the bar staff are topless and wear small hot pants, if you order shots you also have the option to take the shot off the abs of one of the bar staff. Crew Bar is the place to go if you want to get tipsy and dance the night away. It has a great atmosphere and is unpretentious and always attracts a good crowd to have a laugh with.
Hussars Bar & Grill
Hussars Bar and Grill has been around for over 50 years, and is a part of a chain with restaurants dotted all over South Africa. I have been to the Hussars in Camps Bay which is set back a little bit from the main strip overlooking the beachfront. This restaurant has a cosy and old fashioned charm to it which has a huge selection of wines.
Hussars Bar and Grill serve up amazing food and some of the best food I have ever eaten in Cape Town. The menu has a good selection of meats and steaks and also cater well for vegetarians. I chose the portobello mushroom starter and the grilled halloumi for my main and it was so flavoursome. I would really recommend a visit to Hussars you won’t be disappointed, and if you fancy a slightly more upmarket restaurant this is the place for you that won’t cost you an arm and leg.
Mojo Market is a great find, I was so happy when I came across this quirky indoor street food market. It’s good if there’s a group of you and you all fancy eating something different as they literally have everything under one roof. There is everything from Thai, Italian, Greek, Indian and everything in between, I can guarantee you will find whatever you fancy in Mojos. One of my personal favourite stalls is Earthfire Pizza the pizzas are cooked fresh to order and honestly one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had!
As well as having lots of choice of street food vendors there are also several small stalls and pop up shops selling arts and crafts. There is also a roof terrace which has a gorgeous ocean views and a view of Lions Head Mountain, so there is the option of eating your food inside or outside. There are also several bars and they host events and live music too. I really recommend Mojo Market for either lunch or dinner as it’s open late and a great option if your on a budget but still want tasty food.
My Sugar is a chocoholics dream, it specialises in handcrafted chocolates as well as offering coffee and a selection of drinks and milkshakes in its cafe. This is a great place to stop at for a drink and pick up a selection of beautifully crafted quirky chocolates, they also make great gifts to take home. My personal favourite was the peanut butter and jelly chocolate it was to die for!
Nuri Sushi in Sea Point offers take away sushi and Japanese food and there is also seating available inside. When I visit I always order the crispy vegetarian rolls which is the best sushi I have ever had! The Asian fries are also delicious, they are more like crisps than fries but are cooked fresh to order.
I like to go to Nuri after landing into Cape Town for my lunch and normally sit in and eat, and watch the world go by the window. Nuri Sushi is such great value for money without compromising on the taste. The sushi I have is so filling and for 10 pieces it works out at approximately £3.50. Nuri Sushi is a great place to pop in to for lunch or a light snack.
If you love a steak and wine then NV80 is the place to go. It’s a favourite with my work colleagues. NV80 is located in Sea Point in The Point Mall up the escalator. It’s really nicely decorated and your always greeted with a warm welcome. Before I went vegetarian I used to love going to NV80 for a fillet steak, creamed spinach and dauphinois potatoes, it was always a complete calorie overload.
The garlic bread rolls are to die for and so delicious and make a great little starter. NV80 is really reasonable as normally I would spend about £20 for a really decent meal and wine. They also serve lots of fish dishes which are also really delicious, the only downside to NV80 is they don’t offer hardly any vegetarian options, if you are vegetarian then you will prefer Hussars Grill as there is a lot more choice.
Ocean Basket is a South African chain restaurant serving up a huge selection of seafood dishes and platters. The Ocean Basket in Camps Bay is a great location and along the main strip of bars and restaurants overlooking the beachfront and it’s so cheap, I went a while back and got a platter to share with my colleague and it was absolutely delicious and so filling.
Scheckters Raw has to be one of my favourite places to eat in Cape Town. Everything they create is organic and vegan and best of all very fresh. It’s kind of got a cool laid back cafe vibe, but they serve lots of food such as starters, burgers and Buddha bowls. They also have a selection of takeaway snacks and fresh juices available. If you fancy a detox and want some healthy food then this is the place visit, you won’t be disappointed.
Shimmy Beach Club
I went to Shimmy Beach Club in the evening for some dinner, and would love to go back during the day to see what this super chic beach/pool club is like during the day. Dinner however was delicious it has a great selection of vegetarian options and a wide variety of dim sum which was cooked to perfection.
Stones Bar is a great place to go to if there’s a group of you, it has a little bit of a party atmosphere and lots of pool tables to have a game on. It’s a little bit of a dive bar so don’t go expecting all the glamour and just take it for what it is, it is a chain and there are several around, I have been to the one in Sea Point several times and always had a good night.
The Bungalow is a restaurant and bar in Clifton and has the most beautiful decor and layout, with views overlooking the ocean. I did want to go there for dinner on a trip I was taking my Mum along with me on for her 60th birthday, however I heard from so many colleagues that the food was not all that and quite disappointing. So we opted for cocktails at sunset on the sofas outside, we tried the peach sangria which was so sweet and fresh.
The large bed/sofas outside are amazing to chill out on and watch the pastel sunset skies, it’s the perfect way to end a day in Cape Town. I would like to try eating there sometimes to see what the roofs like for myself but I didn’t want to risk it for my Mums special birthday. Hussars Bar and Grill is located just a few short minutes drive away which is where we headed after our drinks.
Even though Cape Town is a beautiful city with so much to see and do, it still can also be a dangerous one so like anywhere else in the world extra caution and awareness should always be taken when out and about, and maybe leave unnecessary valuables at your accommodation or locked away somewhere safe. Also make sure that you don’t venture into certain parts of Cape Town and try and stick to the main tourist areas and city centre, if your worried of concerned speak to your hotel concierge to gain some advice.
This is a bit of a random tip and one that might seem quite obvious, but when in Cape Town make sure to use sun cream especially in their summer months as I always burn quite easily in Cape Town and know a lot of my colleagues have suffered with sunburn in Cape Town, so slap on extra SPF lotion both when sunbathing and out and about wandering around the city, as it’s so easy to catch the sun in Cape Town.
Whatever you decide to do in Cape Town you will fall in love with this incredible city, it really is a city that can appeal to everyone with all age groups in mind.